Public Opinion on Coronavirus: Navigator Daily

Welcome to NAVIGATOR – a project designed to better understand the American public’s views on issues of the day and help advocates, elected officials, and other interested parties understand the language, imagery, and messaging needed to make and win key policy arguments. 

This is a dynamic time, and as a result, Navigator will transition to a daily tracking poll on the coronavirus crisis. For the foreseeable future, we will be tracking public opinion every weekday, releasing on a Tuesday-Saturday schedule. In addition, future editions will provide more messaging guidance to the progressive community. 

This edition of our daily tracking release features findings from a national online survey of 1,010 registered voters conducted April 20-April 23, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • Trump’s approval rating on handling the coronavirus pandemic remains negative and tracks with Americans hearing more negative things about his handling of the crisis.
  • Most Americans say President Trump bears responsibility for the lack of testing and PPE.
  • There is broad, bipartisan support for expanded vote-by-mail.

Coronavirus Briefings: Public Wants to Leave it To Experts

A majority of the public say Trump’s behavior at press conferences gives them a negative impression of his handling of the pandemic and more than half also think he should leave press briefings to health experts.

  • Even a quarter of Republicans (24%) believe Trump should leave the briefings to the experts.

Negative Exposure Tracks With Approval Decline

Throughout our daily tracking, Trump’s approval rating on handling of the coronavirus pandemic has moved in tandem with Americans hearing, on net, more bad than good things about how he is handling the crisis.

  • Since our first day of tracking on March 23rd, net approval on Trump’s handling of the pandemic has dropped 20 points and net hearing mostly positive things has dropped 19 points.

Public Holds Trump Responsible for Lack of PPE & Testing

Nearly three in five Americans find Trump responsible for limitations on testing and lack of protective equipment for frontline medical professionals.

Bipartisan Support for Expanded Vote By Mail in November

Almost three in four Americans support giving all eligible voters the option to vote by mail in November, including more than half of Republicans.

  • Supporters of expanded vote by mail also have the more convincing argument. 69% of Americans agree that the pandemic should not force people to choose between voting and their health, while just 31% agree that expanding vote by mail increases voter fraud and reduces electoral credibility.

There Is Strong Concern That GOP Opposition to Expanded Mail Voting Will Force Choice Between Health and Voting

Americans are most concerned about having to choose between their health and voting in-person in the fall, including half of Republicans.

  • 52% of 2016 Trump voters find being unable to vote by mail in the fall and having to choose between health and exercising their right to vote “very” or “somewhat” concerning, and 40% find it “very” or “somewhat” concerning that Senate Republicans are blocking access to vote by mail.

Pushing Back on Trump’s China Argument

To determine the best response to Trump deflecting blame to the Chinese government, we used a split sample question to test two statements. We found that a statement acknowledging mistakes by the Chinese government performs better than a statement that doesn’t.

Challenges With Unemployment Applications Common

Nearly a third of American households report having tried to apply for unemployment benefits. However, experiences of the application process are mixed, with only 34% of those that have applied saying they have actually received their benefits so far.